Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Challenges of Writing with Dyslexia

I asked author Alicia Kat Dillman to tell me how she overcame dyslexia to write her debut novel, Daemons in the Mist

This is her answer:

“It is my great strength that gets me where I want to go, but it is my flaws, my weaknesses, that made me who I am.”

Sometimes I am so determined in my need to succeed that I forget just how much I have accomplished and just how far I have come.

I don’t like to dwell on things I can’t change or things that I have no control over. Instead, I just keeping moving forward toward the goals I set for myself.

I have dyslexia; in fact I have all three forms.

When I write, sometimes I move letters or words around out of order. And half the time when I read it back, I'll miss the error because my brain is auto-correcting it for me. This is made even worse, if I’m trying to write while the TV is on or someone is trying to talk to me. I will literally start transcribing the audio into the sentences inter-spaced with what I was trying to write. Sometimes words just end up there that are out of the blue and completely unrelated to anything I was thinking.

Because I know this happens, I work around it.

It’s all about focusing on what you need to do instead of focusing on what prevents you from doing it.

I listen to music that won’t distract me and try to write mostly when everyone is asleep, which means about 90% of my writing is done between 11pm-4am. For example, I’m writing this at 2am.

Dyslexia isn’t something that goes away or something you grow out of. It’s something you have to deal with every day, something that’s just a part of what makes you, you.

The point is not to let it run your life.

Sure, nearly every time I write “me” it comes out “my,” instead or vice versa. And I will forever type “chnage” instead of “change,” even though I know how it’s spelled. And I can read a sentence a dozen times and still not see the mistakes, because my brain corrects it for me.

I used to feel embarrassed about this, but you know what? Dyslexia is a disability and those are nothing to be ashamed of.

* * *

About Alicia Kat Dillman

Indie author & illustrator Alicia Kat Dillman is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. Kat illustrates and designs book covers & computer game art by day and writes teen fiction by night. The owner of two very crazy studio cats and nine overfull bookcases, Kat can usually be found performing, watching anime, or hanging out in twitter chats when not playing in the imaginary worlds within her head. 

Daemons in the Mist

Seventeen year old Patrick Connolly has been hopelessly infatuated with Nualla for years but he is all but invisible to her. Until, that is, he rescues her from a confrontation with her ex. Little does Patrick know he’s just set off a dangerous chain reaction that will thrust him into a world of life-altering secrets and things that shouldn’t exist, because the fog and mist of San Francisco are concealing more than just buildings.


Shevi Arnold said...

Thanks, Kat. My daughter is dyslexic, and she wants to be a novelist too. It's great to see someone like her making her dream come true.

Kelly McClymer said...

Thank you for your honesty. My youngest has dyslexia, and through advocating for him for 15 years, I have become a reading tutor. My dream is to write books and create game apps that will help people with dyslexia enjoy learning to read (research indicates that -- for *most* -- it is a skill that can be learned, but people with dyslexia just need more practice at some of the building block skills -- who has the time, right? ... but if it were fun...)

We always encourage the children that come through our tutoring center to look at all the famous people who have dyslexia and recognize that nothing needs to stop them from achieving their dreams!

Shevi Arnold said...

Very true, Kelly.

My daughter is dyslexic, but she loves to read, thanks to teachers like you. It also helps her to know that there are other people with dyslexia out there who have accomplished great things. Ty Pennington, for example, is one of her heroes. She even won a prize in fourth grade because of a drawing and an essay she drew and wrote about why Ty is her hero.

My daughter even dreams of someday being a novelist.

Margot Finke said...

Shevi, you are an awesome role model for kids with dyslexia. My daughter (now grown and married) had dyslexia - just a mild form. Even so, it was a battle for her in school, even though we got her all the help available at the time.

As an author, her dyslexia galvanized me to write a rhyming picture book that encourages kids, and their parents, to get help early. I also included a helpful parent/teacher guide.

You and I know kids CAN learn ways around this problem, and parents need to understand there IS now lots of help available. You are an inspiration, mate!

*Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

Shevi Arnold said...

Thanks, Margot, although Kat is the inspirational one, not me.

My daughter and my husband (who also has dyslexia) have shown me that people who have a hard time reading can still love books. My daughter reads more than anyone I know, and she is my biggest fan.

Your daughter is lucky to have a mom like you.

Amos Keppler said...

I can totally relate. I have "only" a light form of dyslexia, but it is a struggle still. I nodded to myself when you described your symptoms.

Katgirl Studio said...

Shevi- You're welcome =^.^= There are a lot more dyslexic writers than one might think.

The thing about dreams is to never let anything stand in your way.

Katgirl Studio said...

Reading was very hard for me too growing up. And I also had a tutor for a year. I wrote a post a while ago about how I finally came to love reading, that you might enjoy.

Shevi Arnold said...

Thanks, Kat! Your guest blog post was inspirational. Here's wishing you the best of luck with your books.

Helen said...

What an inspirational story with equally inspirational comments! I help children with reading at a local primary school, so I now know where to turn when I meet a dyslexic child.